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Some Retina MacBook Pro users complain of graphics issues after EFI update

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
A number of 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display owners are experiencing noticeable drops in graphics and processor performance after having updated their machines to the latest EFI (extensible firmware interface) version, such as drastically clipped frame rates when running graphics-intensive programs.

According to separate threads on the Apple Support Communities forum, some 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro users noticed the performance drop immediately after installing Apple's MacBook Pro Retina EFI Update v1.0, which was released in September. While it is unclear if the firmware is to blame, many owners feel the update has been detrimental to how the system handles heavy workloads.

The issue is most pronounced when waking a computer from sleep, playing a graphics-intensive game or operating Windows in boot camp. Under heavy load, the CPU, GPU, or both are being underclocked as core temperatures reach or exceed supposedly conservative thresholds.

In the case of AppleInsider reader Filipi, his Retina MacBook Pro's GPU begins to throttle down the machine's discrete GPU to 700MHz from 850MHz, at a reported temperature of 65 to 70 degrees Celsius. The GPU is pulled back further if the CPU temperature hits 80 degrees Celsius.

Retina MBP Clock
GPU clock speeds and corresponding CPU temperature readings in boot camp
as captured by MSI Afterburner. | Source: AppleInsider reader Filipi


From this information, it can be speculated that the computer's firmware may not be correctly communicating with the thermal sensors, the threshold presets may be conservatively low, or there is an error with systems management.

Intel notes on its website that the Tjunction maximum, or highest operating temperature specification, of the processors used in the Retina MacBook Pro is 105 degrees Celsius, a much higher threshold than where forum members are seeing throttles. This could mean the problem lies in how the thermal management system handles the data from the digital thermal sensor (DTS), which is integral in calculating a processor's Tjunction.

It should be noted that Intel chips, like most modern CPUs, have built-in thermal shutdown capabilities to prevent permanent damage to the silicon.

According to the forum members, the Retina MacBook Pros operated without fault prior to EFI version 1.0. Some have found that resetting the SMC or flashing the PRAM solves the problem temporarily, however the fix is far from permanent and owners report a reoccurrence after the computer wakes from sleep.
post #2 of 12
I wonder if this was intentional. There's an ongoing issue with some (all?) 15" Retina MBPs where they make an odd intermittent whining / screeching sound when graphic switching is turned on. If you turn graphic switching off, the machine uses the discrete graphics card 100% of the time and the noise goes away. The sound was only audible in a quiet room

I've noticed that since the EFI update was installed, the noise from my rMBP went away, even with graphic switching turned on. Makes me wonder if this update intentionally underclocks the GPU to eliminate the problem that causes the noise, a noise some have speculated is related to a capacitor issue.

See this for the discussion: https://discussions.apple.com/thread/4056322?tstart=0
Click this to download an audio recording of the sound: https://www.dropbox.com/s/oysfex8imnggefe/RMBP_whine.m4a
post #3 of 12
Old news...

As evidenced by multiple posts on game support forums, resetting the SMC reliably fixes the issue until it is retriggered. Doesn't happen after every sleep for everyone, there's some kind of race condition in the trigger.

Apple is aware of the issue, hopefully if people make a big deal they'll get around to fixing it...
post #4 of 12

I have learned to be wary of EFI updates... I had 3 Macs hosed due to them.
 

post #5 of 12

I just saw this as it notified me of the update. I guess I'll hold off for now.

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post #6 of 12

... and what might be meant by "EFI Update"? 

 

... as if everyone in the world knows every possible acronym...

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post #7 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Macky the Macky View Post

... and what might be meant by "EFI Update"? 

 

... as if everyone in the world knows every possible acronym...

 

 

The very first paragraph of the article says it means "extensible firmware interface." Either the article has been updated since you posted or you need to work on your reading comprehension! :)

post #8 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by canucklehead View Post

I wonder if this was intentional. There's an ongoing issue with some (all?) 15" Retina MBPs where they make an odd intermittent whining / screeching sound when graphic switching is turned on. If you turn graphic switching off, the machine uses the discrete graphics card 100% of the time and the noise goes away. The sound was only audible in a quiet room
I've noticed that since the EFI update was installed, the noise from my rMBP went away, even with graphic switching turned on. Makes me wonder if this update intentionally underclocks the GPU to eliminate the problem that causes the noise, a noise some have speculated is related to a capacitor issue.
See this for the discussion: https://discussions.apple.com/thread/4056322?tstart=0
Click this to download an audio recording of the sound: https://www.dropbox.com/s/oysfex8imnggefe/RMBP_whine.m4a

 

 

?

My 15" rMBP has never done that... and if I turn off automatic graphic switching it stays on the NVIDIA 650M card.

post #9 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by v5v View Post


The very first paragraph of the article says it means "extensible firmware interface." Either the article has been updated since you posted or you need to work on your reading comprehension! 1smile.gif

My car's electronically fuel-injected.

I'll be staying away from this until it's addressed as well.
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post #10 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rokrad View Post

 

 

?

My 15" rMBP has never done that... and if I turn off automatic graphic switching it stays on the NVIDIA 650M card.

 

I'd try listening to it at night when it's silent. I didn't notice mine did it until I was on it late one night and heard the noise.

 

Regarding automatic switching, isn't that what I said?

post #11 of 12

Quote:
Originally Posted by canucklehead View Post

I wonder if this was intentional. There's an ongoing issue with some (all?) 15" Retina MBPs where they make an odd intermittent whining / screeching sound when graphic switching is turned on. If you turn graphic switching off, the machine uses the discrete graphics card 100% of the time and the noise goes away. The sound was only audible in a quiet room

 

Never noticed it on mine, but then again my last laptop was an old white MB that would screech whenever the CPU went to the lowest idle state so I may have just learned to tune it out.

 


Quote:
Originally Posted by canucklehead View Post

I've noticed that since the EFI update was installed, the noise from my rMBP went away, even with graphic switching turned on. Makes me wonder if this update intentionally underclocks the GPU to eliminate the problem that causes the noise, a noise some have speculated is related to a capacitor issue.

I don't understand your logic? If the issue disappears when graphics switching is turned off, it suggests that the sound is coming from integrated chip and not the discrete GPU.  Why would underclocking the discrete GPU help?

 

My experience with this issue makes me think something in the SMC gets corrupted by some specific combination of sleeping/waking and plugging/unplugging the power adapter.

 

I've had SMC issues with my mine since day one.  At first it had a combination of insomnia and narcolepsy (it would fail to power off after shutdown, and would go to sleep on its own at arbitrary times), a couple SMC resets fixed that one though.  Now after the update, in addition to the graphics card problems another bug gets triggered randomly.  It freezes for ~10 seconds on wake from sleep and takes an extra ~60 seconds to shut down.  Once its triggered, it happens every wake and every shut down until I reset the SMC again.  It seems to be triggered separately from the graphics card issue, but still by some sleep/wake combination.  Again this makes me think something in the SMC is getting corrupted....

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rokrad View Post

 

?

My 15" rMBP has never done that... and if I turn off automatic graphic switching it stays on the NVIDIA 650M card.

Discrete = NVIDIA 650M

Integrated = Intel

post #12 of 12
I agree. I haven't had any whining noise or problems with either our MBPR or MBP 15" models. I'm going to leave them as they are and not upgrade. 
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